OECD Skills Studies

English
ISSN: 
2307-8731 (online)
ISSN: 
2307-8723 (print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/23078731
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There is a shift from formal education to a broader perspective that includes a range of hard and soft skills people need to acquire over their lifetime in order to succeed in the labour market. Workers, students, parents, employers, education providers and government agencies now need reliable information on how supply and demand for skills evolve.

The OECD Skills Studies series aims to provide a strategic approach to skills policies. It presents OECD internationally comparable indicators and policy analysis covering issues such as: quality of education and curricula; transitions from school to work; vocational education and training (VET); employment and unemployment; innovative workplace learning; entrepreneurship; brain drain and migrants; and skills matching with job requirements.

Also available in French
 
Building Skills for All in Australia

Building Skills for All in Australia

Policy Insights from the Survey of Adult Skills You or your institution have access to this content

English
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Author(s):
OECD
29 Sep 2017
Pages:
88
ISBN:
9789264284203 (EPUB) ; 9789264281110 (PDF) ;9789264282964(print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264281110-en

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Australia’s overall performance in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) ranges from average to very good. However, three million adults, representing one-fifth of the working age population, have low literacy and/or numeracy skills. Building Skills for All in Australia describes the characteristics of the low-skilled and discusses the consequences that low skills have on economic and social development for both individuals and Australian society. The review examines the strengths of the Australian skills system, highlighting the strong basic skills found in the migrant population, widespread proficiency in use of ICT and the positive role of workplaces in skills development. The study explores, moreover, the challenges facing the skills system and what can be done to enhance basic skills through education, training or other workplace measures. One of a series of studies on low basic skills, the review presents new analyses of PIAAC data and concludes with a series of policy recommendations. These include: increasing participation of women in STEM fields, addressing underperformance of post-secondary VET students and preventing drop-out, improving pre-apprenticeships, enhancing mathematics provision within secondary education and tackling poor access to childcare facilities for young mothers.

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  • Foreword

    Not only are skills, including basic literacy and numeracy, critical to the prosperity and well-being of individuals, they are also key drivers of economic growth and societal advancement. The OECD's international Survey of Adult Skills aims to help countries secure better skills policies by measuring the basic skills of adults in 33 countries and demonstrating how these skills relate to economic and social outcomes.

  • Executive summary

    Australia's overall performance in the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, which is a product of the OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), across literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments ranges from average to very good.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Australia's overall performance in the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills across literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments ranges from average to very good.

  • Basic skills in Australia

    In Australia an estimated three million adults have low basic skills according to the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Relative to other OECD countries in the Survey, adults in Australia have an above-average performance in literacy, but only average numeracy skills. Well-developed literacy and numeracy skills have a positive impact on economic and social development for both individuals and societies. This chapter describes the characteristics of the low skilled in Australia, and discusses the consequences that low skills have on their economic and social outcomes. As in most OECD countries, the low skilled in Australia are more likely to be inactive, earn less, work in elementary occupations and report low levels of well-being.

  • Strengths of the skills system in Australia

    This chapter focuses on the strengths of the Australian skills system that the country can build on. It focuses on three main findings: strong basic skills in the migrant population, widespread knowledge of ICT in Australian society, and the positive role of workplaces in skills development. The first strength is a large population of relatively skilled and welleducated migrants that bring highly desirable and much-needed skills to the workforce. Second, by international standards, adults in Australia, across all age groups, have strong computer and ICT skills, a point of key importance given concerns that automation and digitalisation might result in a jobless future for those without such skills. Finally, jobs in Australia provide more learning opportunities, including for those with low skills, than jobs in many other countries. The workplace is therefore an important and strong element of the skills system in Australia.

  • Numeracy skills are not as good as literacy skills in Australia

    Australians have among the best literacy skills compared with other countries participating in the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). At the same time, their performance in numeracy is only average and there is evidence suggesting that numeracy skills have been declining in recent years. Mathematics performances among students in secondary education could usefully be improved. But this chapter also points to a significant gender difference in numeracy performance, with women scoring lower than men and being underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations. Policies to attract and retain more women in the STEM workforce would help to reduce occupational segmentation in the labour force and improve gender equity in labour market outcomes.

  • Low-skilled adults in post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) in Australia

    Some post-secondary vocational education and training (VET) students lack upper-secondary qualifications. Such students are much more likely to perform poorly in basic skills than their peers with higher levels of education. Women are also overrepresented among students with low basic numeracy and literacy skills. These findings show that initiatives targeting specific categories of post-secondary VET students, such as those with few qualifications and students in specific fields of study could be particularly effective. This chapter also discusses the importance of addressing underperformance in basic skills as a part of post-secondary VET studies.

  • Many young low-skilled Australians are not in employment, education or training (NEET)

    In Australia about 600 000 of 16-29 year-olds, were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2015. This chapter examines the issue of NEETs, particularly the link between NEET status and low skills. Young people who leave education and training early are more likely to become NEET. Typically, students who are at risk of dropping out early from school disengage gradually, and there are early signs that can be helpful in identifying these students. Apprenticeships, or traineeships, can be a powerful tool to engage disconnected youth, as they offer an opportunity to learn and connect to the world of work. Young 16-29 year-old Australian women are three times more likely to be NEET than men. This chapter also discusses the importance of adequate access to childcare facilities for young mothers.

  • Key figures on adult skills in Australia versus other countries
  • Problem solving in technology-rich environments — Sample items
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